He’s one of a kind

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Rushie had been at the non-strik­ing end lean­ing on his bat watch­ing car­nage un­fold while glid­ing to a ca­sual cen­tury.

On mak­ing his ob­ser­va­tion he met the young player half­way to the wicket and quipped in all se­ri­ous­ness: “I dunno about you, but I al­ways like to hit the first one for four!”

I can’t re­mem­ber who the tear­away bowler was, but sim­ple sur­vival seemed much more ap­pro­pri­ate at the time. Don was sim­ply un­flap­pable. It’s a mo­ment in cricket I will never for­get.

It was one of many un­for­get­table mo­ments in­volv­ing this fas­ci­nat­ing and lov­able char­ac­ter.

On an­other oc­ca­sion, Rushie, me­an­der­ing off the field af­ter smash­ing an­other ton while of course sport­ing his trade­mark one glove and floppy hat, in­quired to the scor­ers about his tally at the end of his in­nings.

“Was it 175?” he asked. “No Don, it was 178,” came the re­ply.

“Rub­bish, give me a look at the book,” he said again.

It was the first time he had in­quired about his score dur­ing his mon­u­men­tal in­nings and de­spite the size of his knock had been keep­ing count in his head un­til the end. The scor­ers had it wrong.

The ac­knowl­edge­ment of Rushie some­one spe­cial started early for me.

As a pri­mary-school young­ster I at­tended a cricket match at Horsham City Oval with next-door neigh­bour and Don’s nephew Grant Mcrae.

While play­ing in the shade of the re­serve’s can­teen, far away from the cricket ac­tion, a mighty crash on the build­ing’s tin roof sud­denly in­ter­rupted our game.

With a proud gig­gle and grin Grant im­me­di­ately ex­plained, ‘that’s just Rushie hit­ting an­other six’.

As part of a personalit­y trade­mark, as it wasn’t all about cricket, and Don, apart from his great sport­ing achieve­ments, reg­u­larly took peo­ple by sur­prise with ran­dom ‘Rushie mo­ments’.

One day, am­bling into train­ing at Horsham Tech School nets still in his work clothes af­ter a day at his shoe-store busi­ness, Rushie picked up a ball and queued up with other bowlers in the nets.

Just as he was about to bowl, he paused, gath­ered ev­ery­one’s at­ten­tion and with a nod in a side­ways di­rec­tion asked, “what do you reckon he’s think­ing about fel­lahs?”

Con­fu­sion! “Who, Rushie?” some­one fi­nally asked. “That old bloke over there – he would have seen a fair bit in his time,” he re­sponded.

Amid puz­zled looks, there was even­tu­ally the rev­e­la­tion that Don was talk­ing about a lone galah that had perched on a far­away fence, hold­ing its ground as feath­ers rus­tled in the breeze.

Af­ter an awk­ward pause and a sigh from Rushie, it was back to the cricket where he pre­dictably, and de­spite be­ing in his work clob­ber, sent down an­other un­playable off-spin­ner.

Again, in an­other Rushie mo­ment, when Don had reached su­per-vet­eran sta­tus and had limited his field­ing du­ties to slips, he sported a beam­ing new pair of white sand­shoes.

The shoes ap­peared a lit­tle too large and upon a query as such, Don re­vealed he had the shoes in his shop for many years and his old pair had worn out. With a grin he qual­i­fied a de­ci­sion to wear shoes that didn’t fit by say­ing the big­ger they were the more they helped old blokes in the field. Sure enough, a heavy edge from the bat came fly­ing through and Don, in­stead of catch­ing the ball, poked out one of his gi­ant white sand­shoe-laden feet and kicked it up. The ball hadn’t car­ried far enough to be a catch but amid laugh­ter and ‘told you so’ ex­cla­ma­tions, Don had pre­vented four runs.

Peo­ple who played cricket with and against Don Rush have their own sto­ries, many of them just as var­ied and un­usual.

He at­tracted ado­ra­tion from his team­mates and friends and frus­tra­tion and enor­mous re­spect from his op­po­nents.

He was a rare type of sports­man, let alone crick­eter, be­ing more than handy with a set of golf clubs, and we’ll never know where his tal­ent might have taken him as a foot­baller.

Rest in peace Rushie, you were one of a kind.

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